Cardinal John Patrick Foley heeded God’s “whisper”, as he put it, to become a priest as well as his own inclinations to go to journalism school at 31, then combined the roles as the Vatican’s communications director for almost a quarter of a century.
The 76-year-old died of leukaemia earlier this month in his home city of Philadelphia. Cardinal Foley’s voice was known to millions throughout the world as the English language narrator on broadcasts of the pope’s midnight Christmas Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
As president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Foley expanded the church’s use of the electronic news media, coordinated news coverage for papal trips and issued church declarations on issues as diverse as pornography and ethics in advertising.
As the Vatican spokesman, Cardinal Foley called the sex abuse scandal “a very dark day in the history of the church in the United States.
Called Jackie as a youngster, he started writing radio plays about the lives of saints when he was in the seventh grade; some were broadcast on a local religious program.
Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia urged him to go to Columbia Journalism School.
When first approached about the Rome appointment, he turned it down, saying he had to care for his ailing widowed mother. Cardinal Krol told him to bring her with him to Rome, a move that did not make her happy. An outspoken woman, she said to her son after meeting John Paul, “Being pope can really go to some people’s heads.”
Cardinal Foley returned to the Philadelphia area after retiring this year.
Cardinal John P. Foley, 76, Vatican Spokesman, Dies (New York Times)
John Patrick Foley (Wikipedia)
Video: Cardinal John Foley's Funeral Mass (NBC10 Philadelphia)